Visiting Russia today can be a truly astounding experience, especially for those who knew the country back when it was still the Soviet Union. But for young people visiting it on an educational tour, Russia will impress them with its beauty and dynamism. What better way to appreciate the things Russia has to offer than by exploring its two most important cities, Moscow and St. Petersburg?
If your experience of Moscow’s Kremlin is of the cinematic variety (it explodes spectacularly in Tom Cruise’s ‘Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol’), you’re really not enjoying the full range of emotions anyone feels when they first encounter one of Russia’s most identifiable icons. Indeed, any educational tour of the country should start here, then radiate outward. Even today, the Kremlin’s allure is one emanating a rich sense of mystery; its lavish architecture is merely the tip of the iceberg in the organic ‘blending’ of the genetic strands of medieval Muscovy and the Soviet Union. Today, although two-thirds of the Kremlin complex is not accessible to visitors, there is so much to enjoy and discover. It is still, by all measures, one of the world’s biggest and most intriguing museums and can take students days of exploration in order to fully appreciate it.
The Winter Palace
Any avid fan of history knows the uber significance of the Winter Palace. As the most famous and easily identifiable building in St. Petersburg, it is not only the dominant structure in Palace Square, but it also occupies an important position in the city’s three-hundred-year history. Students on an educational tour through Russia should not miss visiting it. Originally built as a Dutch-style wooden house in the early 1700s to accommodate Peter the Great and his family, the Winter Palace was transformed in 1711 into a stone structure. Over the centuries, along with shifting political and cultural influences, the original structure was expanded, rebuilt, and extended into what we now know as the Winter Palace.
Moscow and St Petersburg’s Parks
When people say that Russia is home to places of ‘epic proportions’, they are not joking. The same goes for the parks you’ll find in both cities. In St. Petersburg, for instance, even the relatively newly created Pulkovskiy Park is not a park in the ordinary urban sense of the word. It is an expansive, deeply liberating space where students on a hectic educational tour can relax and regain their bearings. Moscow and St. Petersburg literally have dozens of these parks: from the Moscow Victory Park, to Catherine Garden, to the Field of Mars and the Botanical Garden.